New Pro Continental team launched by the Cycling Academy and Peter Sagan has international roster that will begin competing in January

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Peter Sagan has this week helped launch the first Israel based Pro Continental team in Jerusalem, which will begin competing in January at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina.

The team, setup by the Cycling Academy, aims to help the development of young Israeli athletes, as well as riders from areas like Slovakia and Poland.

Five Israelis riders, four Poles, a Slovakian and one rider from the Czech Republic, all aged between 16 and 25  make up the team so far, and Sagan, who was brought in as an ambassador on the project, said it’s a something he’s ready to get behind.

“I’m very happy for this project and I thank everybody for this idea, and working on this and choosing me for this,” he said in a short statement. “I want to see the growth of a lot of young guys and think this a very great opportunity to work with riders in a country where cycling is not very popular.”

Sagan, who recently moved from Cannondale to join Tinkoff-Saxo for 2015, met with the new Cycling Academy team for a ride, with the Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat and the president of the Cycling Academy, Ron Baron also present to unveil the team.

Former pro road racer Ran Margaliot will be the team’s manager for their first season, while ex-professional mountain bike rider Dror Pekatch and Jan Valach, who used to coach the Slovakian national squad, will make up the rest of the management team.

Baron, who helped initiate the project, says that the team will compete in 90 days of racing next year, and hopes one day to see them in the Tour de France alongside the likes of Sagan.

“Peter comes from a small country of five million people who normally would not have the chance to become top professionals like guys from Italy or Germany or France,” Baron told the Jerusalem Post .

“But he made it, and I think that he will be an inspiration for young cyclists from Israel.”

“A few years from now the team will race at the world’s highest levels,” he added.

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  • stevetotton

    Tom you paint an inaccurate rosey picture of life in Israel. The fact is that there are high levels of intolerance towards the Palestinian minority population in Israel. Most Jewish Israelis believe they should not have the same democratic rights. It’s this intolerance that makes it unlikely that Palestinian riders will be invited into this squad. There was no mention in this article about inclusivity which is a real worry, they should be explicit from the start if they intended to be fair and open. Israeli sportsmen have been targeted before and may be again which is obviously tragic but with a team drawn from both sides this would not happen. Your belief that this team will be representative based on the contents of this news release is unfounded.

  • TomH

    There are plenty of Palestinians, Druze, Arabs, Christians and many other living happily in Israel. I see absolutely no reason why they would not be accepted into this academy and on to the team. Your concerns strike as as vastly overestimated.

  • stevetotton

    This is an unwelcome development imo as it will lead to the politicisation of road cycling and that comes with a high level of risk because you can’t protect riders on open roads. Israel is not just another country, it’s naive to think it is, so careful consideration needs to be given to anything it puts it’s name to. The only way this team should be allowed into Pro cycling is if they have both Palestinian and Israeli riders in the team. Anything else is irresponsible and asking for trouble. Sport should be inclusive not inflamatory.

  • Phil

    Good for him!

  • Bob Smith

    he will lose many fans for doing this……